Florence + the Machine, Comerica Theatre, 4/20/12

Florence + the Machine
Friday, April 20, 2012
Comerica Theatre

When I streamed the band's Coachella performance last weekend so I could get an idea of what to expect when they came to Phoenix, I thought, "She's great, but something about the performance is kind of weird." To hell with those thoughts! Last night, Florence + the Machine delivered an outstanding performance that was beyond anyone's (or at least my) wildest dreams or expectations.

Check out the full Florence + the Machine slideshow here.

Florence appeared as a goddess behind a sheer screen, and she maintained an overwhelmingly elegant presence throughout the fairy tale of a show.

Her almost gospel voice rang out before a backdrop of stained glass during "Spectrum," and the driving drums had everybody jumping. During "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," she had the limited number of men in the audience lift a lady onto their shoulders. She had the whole crowd sing the vocal harmony for an acoustic rendition of "Heartlines." Countless people closed their eyes and raised their hands to the heavens during "Lover to Lover," clearly moved by the music. Upon the very first note of "Shake It Out," the whole crowd went crazy. Welch had the theatre literally hopping during "The Dog Days Are Over," which was surprisingly received with not much more excitement than most other songs since the crowd loved every single one.

The rest of the band was fantastic as well, and each member complemented the others perfectly. Many people must have a newfound appreciation for the harp after watching Tom Monger play it last night. Before they all left the stage to take a breather before the encore, the band did something lots of concertgoers hardly ever see: they applauded the audience. After the band wrapped up the encore, someone threw flowers onto the stage for Florence. The little love affair between Florence + the Machine and the audience was beautiful.

Florence Welch possesses so much power: female frontwoman power, vocal power, and power to control every boho and indie chick in the world. She just has a way about her; she doesn't walk across the stage, she floats. Welch has practically reincarnated Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz.

Part of the reason this band appeals to the masses is that Welch has redefined the material pop star image that Americans take so seriously. Among other lovely things, Florence brings to the table grace, quality, and a talent so strong that she doesn't need machines in a studio to make anything sound good. She defies the Rachel Dratch theory by proving that if you have enough sheer talent, you don't have to look like a supermodel to score a million great gigs. And so what? The lady's got killer pipes and a great band to back her up. Pop stars like Rihanna, Ke$ha and Miley Cyrus need to move over and make way for Florence Welch, a woman who is truly one of the world's most artistically beautiful and talented singers of our day.

Critic's Notebook:

Last night: Florence + the Machine at Comerica Theatre.

Personal bias: I love Florence + the Machine but I'm not familiar with every song they played. Then again, you didn't really need to be to enjoy the show.

The crowd: Mostly indie chicks that seemed to have all come up with a plan together prior to the show to wear pretty much the exact same thing.

Overheard: "That was definitely the happiest I've ever been singing about a nervous breakdown." - Florence Welch. She's so adorable.

Random notebook dump: Florence Welch is going to make a great mother someday.

Set list:
Only If For a Night
What the Water Gave Me
Cosmic Love
Breaking Down
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
Leave My Body
Lover to Lover
Shake It Out
Dog Days Are Over
Never Let Me Go

You've Got the Love
No Light, No Light

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